Seaweed can get a bad rap because of its strangely unique colour and texture, or because of its unique smell, but don't be fooled by what you see washed up on the beach. On Outer Coast Seaweeds Tours, visitors learn that seaweed on the beach is nothing like the plant that grows just under the water's surface. The real richness lies underwater!

diane bernard: the seaweed lady 

The Seaweed Lady

Diane Bernard heads Outer Coast Seaweeds, a company that doesn't actually grow seaweed, but harvests it in Sooke, on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. She sells it fresh to restaurants for culinary purposes, and with her company Seaflora Wild Organic Seaweed Skincare, has incorporated it into a line of thalassotherapy seaweed products for spas. Bernard also gives tours to educate everyone from schoolchildren to chefs to tourists about the diversity of B.C. seaweeds and their health and healing properties. In doing so, she's changing the way people think about seaweed and Victoria's undersea gardens.

 

gourmet seaweed photo: sooke harbour house 

Seaweed as Food

Local chefs were ecstatic when Bernard called, asking if they were interested in incorporating fresh, local seaweed in their menus. They quickly made the locally harvested plants part of their culinary creations, noting the rich variety of flavours and textures of different kinds of seaweed. Seaweed is also known to be high in nutrients, low in calories and great for your digestive health.

 

packed with nutrients from the sea photo: seaflora  

Seaweed Skincare

After putting numerous Canadian spa directors in boots and taking them out to harvest seaweed, Bernard began producing her first Seaflora products. Careful to preserve the seaweed's vitamins and fatty acids without chemical preservatives, she came up with a line of products ranging from facial cleansers to body wraps. Spas across Canada and the US are now eager to get their hands on her organic skincare.

 

learn about local species 

See for Yourself

Still skeptical? Don a pair of gumboots (provided) and join a tour. The two-hour outing through Sooke's tidal pools demonstrates the useful qualities of seaweed extensive varieties. There are over 700 species of seaweed on the B.C. coastline and 250 in the area Bernard harvests in Sooke.

Chefs and spa professionals alike have incorporated knowledge procured from Bernard and Outer Coast Seaweeds into their spa and dinner menus. So return to the beaches of Sooke and the area and look at seaweed in a whole new light! Then head straight to a local spa for a treatment to feel the health effects, before going on to dinner at Sooke Harbour House Restaurant to experience seaweed used in the daily menu. After all, one of the best things about having a (sea) garden in your backyard is reaping the benefits!